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March Mammal Madness


Welcome to March Mammal Madness! This library guide is your one-stop location for MMM info and resources to help you fill out your bracket. The Official March Mammal Madness site is Mammals Suck...Milk, Dr. Katie Hinde's blog, where she founded MMM in 2013. Each year, the tournament has become more popular, elaborate, educational, and fun.

Inspired by (but in no way affiliated with or representing) the NCAA College Basketball March Madness Championship Tournament, March Mammal Madness is an annual tournament of *simulated* combat competition among mammals. Scientific literature is cited to substantiate likely outcomes as a probabilistic function of the two species' attributes within the battle environment. Attributes considered in calculating battle outcome include temperament, weaponry, armor, body mass, running speed, fight style, physiology, and motivation.

Through the scientific information embedded in the bout descriptions, participants are educated about inter-species interactions, the importance of ecological context, how natural selection has shaped adaptations, and conservation management of endangered species.

Get Started!

  1. Get your bracket!
  2. Pick your winners by March 11 for the Wild Card!
  3. Follow the action (See tournament schedule)
    1. Live on Twitter: Follow #2019MMM or @2019MMMletsgo - a curated twitter account that only includes bout tweets, not spectator trash talk. Teachers may also want to use #2019MMMk12 with their students for a more student-friendly twitter feed.
    2. Archived bouts at Mammals Suck...Milk (and here) daily after each match if you can't participate live.
    3. March Mammal Madness Facebook Page

Battle Outcome

Battle outcome is a function of the two species' attributes within the battle environment. Attributes considered in calculating battle outcome include: temperament, diet, social behavior, environment, size, and fight style. After these factors are weighed against each other, the MMM organizers determine probability of one animal defeating another. This is how they develop the seed, or rank, of each mammal. Then a random number generator is used to determine the outcome. A note on location: In the early rounds the battle location is in the preferred habitat of the better-ranked combatant in the battle, and ecology can play a huge role in what happens. Once to the Elite Trait, the battle location is random among four specific ecologies for the remaining battles. For 2019, these are: Thorn Forest, Mangrove, Sandhills, and Lake. The location is announced right before the battle. Additionally, events that occur in early rounds, such as injury or illness, carry over into later rounds.

Participants fill out their brackets with their choices for the winners for each bout. Scoring occurs at the end of the tournament, points allocated as follows:

  • Wild Cart = 1 point
  • Round 1 = 1 point each
  • Round 2 = 2 points each
  • Round 3 = 3 points each
  • Round 4 = 5 points each
  • Round 5 = 6 points each
  • Champion= 13 points


What do the numbers next to the Mammals mean?

These correspond to the relative rankings among the species. 1 is the highest/best ranked team in the division and 16 is the lowest/worst- the number assigned is referred to as "seeding" but it's functionally interchangeable with ranking (seeded/ranked are therefore also interchangeable).

The single elimination bracket battle favors the strongest teams until you get out to the semi-finals: seed 1 plays (crushes) seed 16, seed 2 plays seed 15, etc. As soon as a species loses, it's out of the tournament (unless it Alt-Advances)!

Are the battles one on one, or do social mammals get their buddies?

Typically, battles are one on one. However, in 2017 there was a team: the Neanderthal Hunting Party, which was a small group of hunters working together with Neanderthal technology. In general, assume that the combatants represent the most prime-aged, healthy and strong specimen of that species. Also, just as in nature, there can occasionally be scientifically-grounded outside interference.

Is the battle always to the death?

No - sometimes the winner wins by displacing the other at a feeding location, sometimes a powerful animal doesn't attack because it is not motivated to.

What is an "upset"?

This is when a low ranked team beats a high ranked team. 9 beating 8 isn't a super impressive upset. In the actual NCAA tournament upsets happen when a 12 will beat a 5 or an 11 will beat a 6, once every few years a 15 will beat a 2 in the first round. For example,

“Coming off its 11th national championship the season before, UCLA was ready to make another run through the 1996 NCAA tournament as a No. 4 seed. But in his final year as coach, Pete Carril and his 13 seeded Princeton offense got the best of the Bruins, stunning Jim Harrick’s squad in the first round with a last-second basket on a backdoor cut.”

What is a “Cinderella” team?

A "cinderella" team is a low-ranked team that progresses multiple rounds of the tournament systematically beating higher ranked teams.

So should I always pick the better ranked mammal?

No! Real fans don’t abandon their favorite mammals just because they are pathetic at this kind of battle (although hopefully well-suited to their particular ecological niche). People will clown you if your bracket is TOO conservative by always picking the higher ranked team. Also the rankings are not infallible -for example, in 2013, many people felt the platypus was terribly under-seeded because the males have venomous spurs.

Upsets are what make March Madness exciting. Like if the Sac-Wing Bat beat Spectacled Bear in Round 1 - OMG NO ONE SAW THAT COMING!!!!! (but I think we can feel pretty certain that is very unlikely to happen) - ed. note - it did not happen.

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